Giants-Falcons: Offensive Line Struggles in Blowout Loss

Jim Mancari , Contributor

When a team wins a game, usually the skill position players get all the credit, and the offensive linemen are forgotten even if they play well.

But in the Giants’ 34-0 loss to the Falcons, the offensive line is just as much to blame as any other facet of the team’s pitiful performance.

This was the first time the Giants have been shutout in a regular season game since Dec. 1, 1996 against the Philadelphia Eagles – a streak of 256 games.

The Falcons’ front four pressured Eli Manning all game, though he was only sacked X. The Giants could not muster any offensive attack and have now put themselves in a tough bind concerning the playoffs.

The lack of push though from the offensive line on short yardage running plays is was ultimately sealed the Giants’ losing fate.

Big Blue was 0-for-3 on fourth downs of one, one and two yards, respectively. These plays stopped the Giants from putting points on the board in their feeble attempt for a comeback.

Chris Snee suffered a hip injury and was replaced by Jim Cordle. Snee returned but was again replaced by Cordle, so the shuffling along the line certainly did not help the cause.

It’s interesting that in all three fourth-down instances, Tom Coughlin elected to go for it rather than settle for a field goal. The first time, the Giants were in no-man’s land, so the decision was warranted. But the other two times, the Giants could have opted for three points, at least to come away with something while the game was still somewhat close at 17-0.

The Giants did have a few decent offensive drives but came away with nothing to show for it. In fact, Big Blue had more total yards than the Falcons as the game hit the halfway point of the third quarter. Yet, the Giants were down 24-0.

Even when he was given time to throw, Manning struggled in this one, starting from his first pass attempt. He finished the day 14-of-26 for 161 yards, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 40.7.

With Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined, David Wilson and Kregg Lumpkin ran the ball well overall but could not come through in key short yardage situations. But again, that goes back to the Falcons’ defensive line dominating the Giants’ O-line.

Domenik Hixon had an impressive performance with five catches for 80 yards, but Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Martellus Bennett combined for just seven catches for 70 yards.

Certainly, the Giants’ defense has plenty to work on, but if the offensive line can’t protect Manning, this team has no hope.

With the Redskins’ win over the Browns, the Giants (8-6) no longer control their destiny in the NFC East. But the team still controls its playoff fate as a wild card.

Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.